Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Sound of Vincent Spinning

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have made some terrific movies together. Edward Scissorhands; Ed Wood (Burton's masterpiece, as far I am concerned) and Sleepy Hollow, among them. They've also made increasingly bad movies. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which I am almost embarrassed to admit I really liked because of it's loyalty to the book, and Depp's creepy, weird and molestery performance); Sweeney Todd (a movie so removed from its very theatrical origins - much like Les Miserables - that it became little more than a slasher movie with songs); Alice in Wonderland (which I found to be actually insulting to Lewis Carroll and all of nonsense. Imagine being insulting to nonsense. It's actually too sad to be considered nonsense) and worst of all, last year's truly awful Dark Shadows. Burton over-estimated the camp value of the series whose fans hated that he tried to make it into a deliberate comedy. The TV show's appeal was never its camp - it was the characters and the story lines. Sure, they were absurd. But that's the nature of genre TV and film. The audience accepts those unlikely conceits by acquiescing to a willing suspension of disbelief. When the absurdities became the point, that suspension shuts down and people hate you for making fun of the show instead of embracing what they loved about it.

Burton used to be an interesting and actually good filmmaker. But then he got jaded and lazy and lost sight of the importance of story. Anymore, his films are about visual tricks and weird CGI. Depp used to be an interesting and fun actor, but since Pirates of the Caribbean  (not a Burton film), he's become a parody of himself, known for being bizarre more than anything else. His upcoming role as Tonto alongside Armie Hammer's Lone Ranger is just further proof of that. Watch this trailer if you don't believe me.

Of course, Burton and I have many common influences, which naturally makes me want to like his work, very much. One of those influences was the amazing genre actor Vincent Price. And while I've certainly seen just about all of Price's films by now (even the non-genre ones), my favorites are what I consider his Masterpiece Trilogy: The Abominable Dr. Phibes; Dr. Phibes Rises Again and Theatre of Blood. The Phibes movies are about a massively disfigured musician and composer taking revenge on those whom he considers responsible for his wife's death, while Theatre of Blood concerns an insane hack Shakespearean actor who, after failing at killing himself, takes revenge on the critics he blames for his failing career.

Today, Naughty But Nice Rob (a blog I've never heard of before, but was linked to via my Facebook feed), is reporting that Burton has cast Depp in his remake of The Abominable Dr. Phibes. And I responded with "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!"  The bizarre, Steampunk/Clockwork/Art Deco horror movie with murders based on the 10 Plagues deserves a better team. I know Burton has a deep reverence for Vincent (indeed, the film that first got him noticed is an homage to our mutual hero and Price's last film was Edward Scissorhands), but I can't imagine either of them restraining themselves enough to make an actually good version of this movie. They must be stopped. I can't handle the thought of Helena Bonham Carter as Vulnavia.







While Theatre of Blood was adapted into a stage play in London a few years ago, I've always thought it deserved a musical adaptation. Wish I could afford the rights to that. Of course, I could always do an "unauthorized" version...

As for the Burton/Depp remake of Phibes? That spinning sound you hear is coming all the way from Mr. Price's grave.

More, anon.
Prospero


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Monday, May 27, 2013

Mini Review: 5 For; 5 Against - "Star Trek: Into Darkness"

Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine
The movie's already been out a week; it's late on the last day of my 5-day weekend; I'm still sore and everything's already been spoiled, so I thought I'd give Star Trek: Into Darkness Jeep Guy Sean's "5 For; 5 Against" treatment.

5 For

5. Zachary Quinto. The adorable Marriage Equality activist proves once again to be Nimoy's destined successor. 

4. The New Timeline. It allowed them to take a Rubik's Cube approach to Wrath of Khan, sometimes quite cleverly refitting and reusing major plot points as part of an overall new story. This franchise shouldn't be viewed as a reboot as much as an Alt History version of the original. If they continue to mine the rest of the cannon this cleverly, they could make as many of these as they want for a very long time.

3. Deep Roy! The diminutive Indian actor has been making genre films since the mid '70's. I first noticed him in 1980's fabulously over-the-top Flash Gordon, billed as Princess Aura's Pet. I didn't realize he was Keenser in Star Trek until I saw his name in the credits this time around. He's in a million things and you usually know him when you see him. Hidden under a ton of makeup in yet another silent role, Roy manages to still convey the humor in Scotty's weird, little alien sidekick.

2. Karl Urban; John Cho; Zoe Saldana; Anton Yelchin and Simon Pegg. While Urban brilliantly channels his own version of DeForest Kelly, the other supporting leads take their iconic characters and make them both new and familiar. Plus... a Tribble!

1. The action sequences and special effects are simply magnificent. J.J. Abrams' eye for exciting action is flawless. Of course we know our heros will survive. They always do. But Abrams manages to make the danger they are in seem very real, no matter how preposterous.

5 Against

5. Chris Pine. Ventriloquist's dummy-headed Pine's version of a young James Kirk just bugs the heck out of me. It's not that he's doing anything particularly wrong... he just doesn't seem to be quite right.  Of course, it could be the way the character is written. Or his age (too young). It just... well, he just isn't the 'Win' that the rest of cast is for me.

4. Benedict Cumberbatch. I don't get the trend of unattractive, pasty Brits in American films lately. But an unattractive, pasty Brit playing a role originated by a handsome, swarthy Spaniard? Khan Noonian Singh is NOT a pasty anything. Was Javier Bardem not available? Or even Gael Garcia Bernal? Hell, Bollywood hottie Hrithric Roshan would have been an even better choice.

3. Lens Flare. Okay, we get it, J.J. It's kind of your thing. But it's getting damned annoying and it hurts my eyes. If you do it in Star Wars, I will hate you forever. Stop it. Stop it now.

2. The Deck. Is it me, or did it look like Hello Kitty threw up in the Enterprise? What was up with all the pink? 

1. IT WAS TOO LOUD!

To be honest, K, Q, Dale and I actually enjoyed it a lot. It was a fun and exciting movie, even if there were no real suprises. Hearing Quinto shout one of Shatner's iconic lines was particularly funny and I was pleased to see Leonard Nimoy in a brief cameo. We didn't see it in 3D and we all agreed we didn't miss anything. ***1/2 (Three and a Half Out of Four Stars). A great way to start the Summer Movie Season.



More, anon.
Prospero
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Sunday, May 26, 2013

After the Superhero Leaves

If you've seen Pixar's hilarious Superhero/James Bond mashup movie, The Incredibles, then you know there is always a price to pay for the destruction caused by superheroes in their pursuit of supervillians. Sure, the Super has saved hundreds of thousands of lives from the hands of a madman, but at what cost? I know you've seen the trailers for Man of Steel. I must assume you saw The Avengers and at least the trailer for Ironman 3. Just at look at all the physical property destruction wreaked upon New York and Metropolis and wherever Tony Stark and Mr. & Mrs. Incredible live. Someone has to clean that mess up.

My amazing sister and her husband flew up from Florida to specifically come help me do some things around the house for which I don't have the skills or just couldn't do by myself. Thursday morning they showed up and the BIL went right to work, repairing the gate destroyed by Sandy (I knew there was a reason I didn't throw those pieces away). After he finished that, we went to a famous DIY box-store and spent an hour picking up supplies for the other jobs we had planned on tackling. I drove home at a steady 22 MPH with three 8x6 stockade fence panels tied to my luggage rack and a new ceiling fan for my kitchen; backsplash for my bathroom and assorted hardware for several other projects. Between 2 PM and 6 PM that afternoon, the BIL had installed the backsplash and the ceiling fan; the two of us put up the stockade fence and he repaired another chain-link fence on the short side of the back lawn. We had hoped to trim some of the horrifically overgrown vegetation along the two longer sides of the neighbors' fences, but it was raining off-and-on all day, so that got shelved. Meanwhile, my sister started sorting through some of Mom's extensive jewelery collection, looking for items of actual value. Mom has a lot of 'fashion' jewelry (what used to be called 'costume' jewelry), but she also had a whole lot of fine gold and silver stuff with plenty of real gemstones. Sis, along with being an extraordinary maker of cakes, used to work as a fine jewelry retailer and is a certified Diamondtologist. After a few hours of sorting and cleaning (and Mom's say-so), she had quite a pile of stuff Mom hasn't even seen in years, let alone worn. Exhausted, we met up later at a local diner (along with the BIL's equally gold-hearted sister and her very bright and funny son) for a huge celebratory meal. 

Yesterday, while Sis went off to sell the jewelry (which netted Mom far more much-needed cash than either of us anticipated), the BIL came back and started on the trimming we'd been unable to do on Thursday. And he had that look in his eye. The one that said, "I'm bored and I'm going to finish if it kills me." Using only an electric hedge trimmer and my small handsaw, he cleared 2/3 of the long-neglected weeds; vines; small trees and assorted Evil Dead-level vegetation in my backyard before accidentally cutting my 100' extension cord (something of which I've been guilty in the past). He vowed to repair or replace it (and he did). And while I truly appreciate all the hard work he put into it, it's going to take me several weeks to clear all the stuff he cut down. I alreafdy filled two large brown-paper lawn bags and barely touched a quarter of it Trust me, I am NOT complaining! I love that he did as much as he could while here. Hell, I wish we could have done more. And while I still have a ton of work to do in the yard, it hardly seems as overwhelming as it once did. Cleaning up after the superhero is certainly better than fighting the villain alone, no matter how sore one's legs, back and shoulders are... (I should buy stock in the company that makes 'Aleve'). It sucks getting old, kids.



I don't know. Maybe Man of Steel has me all worked up. I just know that I love my siblings and everything they do for me! And I can't wait until I can go down to the F state again for a proper visit!

More, anon.
Prospero
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Saturday, May 25, 2013

BSA, Peace Corps, Gratuity and Other Nonsense

It Should Be Illegal to Be this Beautiful
That PYT on your left is the "Gratuity" portion of tonight's (OK - this morning's) post. Seriously, no one I know or have ever known in real life is quite that gorgeous. The body; killer smile; the bright blue eyes and the "I'm naughty" scruff all add up to a very attractive package, but I hope the two of you have something to talk about after. Pretty is all well and good. I have nothing against pretty in the correct context. But if all he wants to talk about is how many hours a week he works out; Crest White Strips and Spongebob Squarepants, it's probably better to cut your losses and move on. Not that I am saying such is the case with this anonymous beauty; he may well be a Rhodes Scholar for all I know. Of course, as much as I may admire a fine piece of Lalique glass, I don't want to have cold, unresponsive sex with it.

Wow. That escalated quickly. Still, if you know this young man's name, please pass it on so that I may give him proper credit for his luck in the genetics crap shoot.

Moving on.

This week, the Peace Corps, founded in the early 60's by beloved Democrat JFK, announced that they will now allow same-sex couples to serve together starting this June (via). "Service in the Peace Corps is a life-defining leadership experience for Americans who want to make a difference around the world," said Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. "I am proud that the agency is taking this important step forward to allow same-sex domestic partners to serve overseas together." I can only imagine that Mr. Kennedy would very much approve.

Conversely, the BSA has come forward to announce that while they will lift the ban on openly gay Scouts, they will continue to ban openly gay Scout Leaders (also via), denying LGBT parents the right to participate in their own children's scouting experience and denying openly gay Scouts the right to become Scout Leaders after the age of 18. This is a sad and myopic solution to the objections raised by the LGBT community and its supporters. When the current BSA Board of Directors are long forgotten, a future Board will look back and ask "What the heck was wrong with those idiots?" Shame on you, current BSA Board. Don't even try to tell me you don't have a gay family member of friend, because you do. And I hope they hate you now. 

In other news, it has been reported that 67-year-old genre icon Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show; Legend; It; Clue; Spamalot) suffered a stroke, but is reportedly doing well and expected to make a full recovery. In fact, it is now being reported that Tim's stroke occurred last July. I have no idea what Mr. Curry's sexuality may be. I only know that he helped a much younger version of Uncle P to let his own freak flag fly and I will always love him for it. Continue to get well, Tim! You mean so much to so many folks, for so many reasons!



So come up to the lab. And see what's on the slab! 

More, anon.
Prospero
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Game Changer

Henry Cavill as Kal-El
I am the first to admit to being dubious about Warner Brothers' reboot of DC's founding character with Zach Snyder's upcoming Man of Steel. It started a while back with the first pictures of the redesigned suit. Like many purists, I didn't like the loss of the red briefs, though the costume has grown on me a bit. Then I sort of balked at the casting of Henry Cavill. Why was  Brit playing an American icon? It would be like Ben Affleck playing James Bond. Then more pictures of Cavill as Clark Kent started showing up. A hairy-chested, bearded Kal El? (How the hell does a Kryptonian shave on Earth?) He was looking mighty fine, though.

Then the rest of the cast was announced. Amy Adams as Lois Lane? Okay, you've got my attention. I love Amy Adams. She's amazing. Laurence Fishurne as Perry White? Um.... sure, why not? As long as he isn't as creepy as he is on "C.S.I." and "Hannibal." . Oh, dear. Russell Crowe as Jor-El? Um.... um... Okay, I'll admit it. I despise Russell Crowe. I think he is an abominable person who doesn't deserve the fans he treats like crap. Wait, what? Kevin Costner as George Kent?  Seriously? Why does this hack still have a career? Oscar winner or not, Costner is a bad, bad actor. Diane Lane as Martha Kent? Isn't she too young? I mean, sure, I love her but when did she get old enough to play Martha Kent? It's like Winona Ryder playing Spock's mother in Star Trek. Weird. Oooh! Michael Shannon as General Zod sounds amazing.

The first trailer came out and fans were.... confused.



Hmmm. That was...  Oh, wait. I didn't realize Nolan was producing (before the teaser first came out). Okay. This has a chance of being better than Suckerpunch (though to be honest, almost anything had the same chance). Then came Teaser #2:



Well, that was... New Agey. Trailer #3 arrived with with Crowe, a look at Krypton and a few more hints.



Feeling a lot better, but still confused. Superman in handcuffs? More details leaked - No Kryptonite. In fact, Krypton was not destroyed. Kal-El was sent to Earth because he was an illegal natural child. Hmm.... Clark spends his early years afraid of who he is. Interesting. And the name Superman is merely alluded to but not used. David S. Goyer (Nolan's Batman trilogy) wrote the script. He's had more hits than misses, but this is tricky material. Sure, DC writers re-boot their lines all the time. But this is the greatest superhero of all time. There's some very deeply ingrained history with this character and Goyer is taking some major risks with a mythology origin that hasn't changed in 75 years. You guys better know what you're doing. I'll probably see it, but with a purist's eye and a romanticist's heart.

Then yesterday, this trailer hit the net and everything changed (watch FULL SCREEN!):



Damn!  Now that is the kind of big-screen; 3D; action-packed; 21st Century Superman movie the franchise needs. That trailer single-handedly changed Man of Steel's status from "Want to See" to "MUST See." I may want to be Batman, but I have have always been in love with Superman. It looks like Nolan and Snyder may well make me fall in love with the big gorgeous lug all over again!


More, anon.
Prospero
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Ironic Tragedy

F5 Tornado - Topeka, KS. 1966
Tornadoes are measured on the Fujita Scale, named for University of Chicago Meteorologist Tetsuya Fujita, who developed the scale in 1971 (my sweet friend Chris will be so excited that I've done some research on his lifelong obsession, even if I actually learned that from a movie long before I met him). The scale goes from 1 to 5. An F5 tornado is massive and consists of winds up to 300+ MPH. The description of an F5 (via) is terrifying:

"Incredible damage. 

"Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 m (109 yd); trees debarked; steel reinforced concrete structures badly damaged." 

That's what happened in Oklahoma, today. "Incredible Damage." And it was. The footage on TV and on line is horrifying. As if this writing, there are no final figures, so I won't talk about casualties. I will talk about brave teachers who led their students to safety. I'll never understand why people no longer respect nor approve of teachers. It's no wonder no one wants to go into teaching, anymore. 

But that's neither here nor there. In the wake of this tragedy, as with any natural disaster, myself and everyone like me is going to be blamed for it. In fact, I am certain that as of this writing, some wingnut Evangelical has said the tornadoes were 'God's' punishment for the country's sinful attitudes towards Queer people. Seriously. Don't wait too long before Shirley Phelps and her viperous kinfolk show up to blame a random act of nature on me; my friends; my family and everyone like us. And then there's Pat Robertson, whom I am sure will simply disregard actual, proven science and say that 'God' is vengeful and wrathful and wants to punish us for our sins. I have to wonder why 'God' would take his anger out on a region mostly populated by Robertson's kind of Christians. Shouldn't an angry supreme being  have better targets of destruction? Vegas, maybe. L.A. and New York and San Francisco? Hello? Key West? Provincetown? Miami? New Hope?  No, 'God' chooses Moore, OK, right in the middle of the Bible Belt. What kind of a-hole supreme being punishes the pious for the sins of the wicked? The Judeo-Christian God of Abraham is pretty much a dick, by those standards. 

Meteorologists often refer to an F5 as "The Finger of God." This leads me think of 'God' as a petulant child, swiping away anthills and crushing those ants left behind with his thumb. Either that, or he's a psychopath. I think the thought of 'God' as a snot-nosed 6-year-old psychopath actually scares me much more than the thought of my own mortality. How cruel would it be if we were all living at the whim of a lunatic toddler?

Like any natural disaster, today's events take a psychological toll on everyone, no matter what one believes. But the great thing about humanity is this: We get back up. We fix what's broken. We move on, no matter how painful it may be to do so. Some folks turn to their faith, which is perfectly fine. Some folks volunteer, which is even better because it actually accomplishes something. 

Here's some rather scary footage from today's event (via):



First and foremost, these folks need food, water, clothing and medicine.  Donate to your local Red Cross or start your own drive. Uncle P was inconvenienced for a few days last October by Sandy. I don't even want to think about what these poor people are going through. Want to make a difference? Don't waste your time praying. Send a blanket, some canned food or a couple of bucks. It'll do so much more good.

More, anon.
Prospero
You have read this article Atheism / Disasters / Hurricane Sandy / Nature / Ramblings / Religion / Tornadoes / Weather with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/05/ironic-tragedy.html. Thanks!
Sunday, May 19, 2013

Time With My Favorite Person in the World.

Uncle P's Sister
Only my sister and people who know both of us will fully grasp the hilarity of the picture to your right. Trust me, she will not find this picture offensive in the least. In fact, she'll email or Facebook me her approval, because Heaven forfend she should ever actually comment on her brother's blog no matter how much he hints, nags or goads. She's as stubborn as our Hungarian grandmother. Then again, I'm as stubborn as our German mother.

So, double good news for the upcoming Memorial Day Holiday. Sis and the BIL are heading North and Uncle P has a 3-day work week followed by a 5-day weekend! Mom and the BIL are no doubt preparing for what they call our 'secret language,' though truth be told, for as much as the brat and I have in common, we have just as much not. Of course, our differences are secondary to both of us. We argue, like all siblings (we had a mini-argument on the phone today) but make no mistake -- we would defend one another with our lives. 

We have always laughed together far more than we've been cross with one another, and I'd say that ratio continues to grow toward the laughing as we get older. And truth be told, there are plenty of things that she and I share with no one else in the world: Phrases; quotes; sounds; jokes and bits of nonsense that never fail to make us laugh, often to the consternation of those around us, who sadly have no idea why we're crying or bent over in laughter-induced abdominal pain. And make no mistake, many of those folks have known both of us for many years and still have no idea why we find something as hilarious as we do. 

And honestly, we like it that way.

Whether it's down in Florida (yes, I know) or here in PA, I'll never say 'no' to spending time with my little sister. She's pretty great. I hope you and your siblings (if you have them) are as close as my sister and I are. The next three days will be torture...



More, anon.
Prospero

You have read this article Cakes / Holidays / My Sister / Nonsense / Silly / Vacation with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/05/time-with-my-favorite-person-in-world.html. Thanks!
Thursday, May 16, 2013

On Kaiju, Cthulhu, Lovecraft and del Toro

Many of you know that Uncle P is a Lovecraft fan. So it should be no surprise that a few years back I was very excited to learn that Guillermo del Toro was planning to adapt Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" for the screen, I nearly peed my pants with joy. As far as I am concerned, del Toro's 2006 film Pan's Labyrinth is the first film masterpiece of the 21st Century. The Mexican-born director (and fellow monster-movie geek) has made some of the most visually arresting genre films ever made, including Blade II and the Hellboy movies. 

If anyone could successfully bring Lovecraft's horrifying monsters to the screen, it would be del Toro. Others have tried. In 1970, Sandra Dee; Dean Stockwell; Ed Begley, Sr; Sam Jaffe and Talia Shire starred in the rather boring and not scary The Dunwich Horror.  In the 80's, Stuart Band and Brian Yuzna made the first of many Lovecraft-inspired films, Re-Animator; an hilariously sick, gory and over-the-top film released in 1985 without a rating. It was followed by From Beyond and several other films, including Bride of Re-Animator and Beyond Re-Animator, all starring genre legend Jeffrey Combs. The underrated and very clever 1991 HBO movie Cast a Deadly Spell saw Fred Ward as noir detective Phillip Lovecraft in an alternate-history version of the 1940's where magic is commonly used by almost everyone and a real-estate developer is using zombies to build a housing development which is really just a front for a cult bent on reviving The Old Ones. And John Carpenter's 1994 film In the Mouth of Madness combines elements of both Lovecraft and King in a tale of a publisher searching for his missing best-selling horror author in a bizarre New England town where nothing is what it seems to be. Lovecraft's work is even referenced in Sam Raimi's Evil Dead films. While some of these movies succeed more than others, none has managed to truly capture the abject horrors Lovecraft describes in his stories and novels. A del Toro version had the potential to do just that. Sadly, the studio backing the project got scared off by such a big-budget production which would limit audiences by requiring an "R" rating in the U.S. and the project was nixed.

Happily, it left the director free to make a movie he was only supposed to produce. The kaiju/giant robot mash-up, Pacific Rim. Inspired by the Toho Studios post-nuclear giant monster (kaiju means 'strange beast' in Japanese) movies of the 50's and 60's, Pacific Rim will undoubtedly be little more than what it advertises itself to be: A big, splashy, FX-laden 3D movie about giant robots battling giant monsters. And watching the latest trailer (below), who could want anything more. Destruction! Giant monsters! Giant robots! I am so there. Watch this one in Full Screen and the sound turned up!



Sweet Mia and I, after being friends for a while now, may have to make this our first movie date.

PS - I am a sucker for Fred Ward and I actually really like Cast a Deadly Spell. It's funny and very, very clever. Plus, David Warner!



And while wildly uneven, Carpenter's take on Lovecraft is at least fun to watch:



More, anon.
Prospero
You have read this article Cthulhu / Fred Ward / Guillermo del Toro / Horror / Kaiju / Lovecraft / Movies / Noir / Parodies / Robots / sci-Fi / The Old Ones / Trailers with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/05/on-kaiju-cthulhu-lovecraft-and-del-toro.html. Thanks!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013

NBC Will Suck This Fall

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Dracula
Unlike Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi movies, which by many are considered the 'bastards' of the film industry (despite often being the most profitable), Fantasy/Horror/Sci-Fi has always had a place on TV. And it seems like those genres are enjoying a renaissance of late, with the success of "The Walking Dead;" "Grimm;" "American Horror Story;" "The Vampire Diaries;" "True Blood;" "Dexter;" "Hannibal;" "Bates Motel" and "Game of Thrones" (to name a few).

As a child, the first Horror movie I can remember seeing was Tod Browning's 1931 classic Dracula, starring Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi. According to Answers.com. the story has been adapted 28 times on film, though their list doesn't include either version of Nosferatu, among others. And it doesn't touch on stage versions. Indeed, I've penned my own (as yet un-scored) musical adaptation, Children of the Night. Bram Stoker's classic novel wasn't the first vampire story committed to the page, it is certainly the most well-known.

This coming fall, NBC jumps on the Horror bandwagon with their own version of Dracula, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("The Tudors") as the Carpathian bloodsucker in a 13-episode series which has the iconic Count posing as an American entrepreneur intent on bringing science to naive Victorians while searching for revenge against the ancestors of those who cursed him in the first place (via). While an interesting take on the character, I hope the creators (whose credits include the phenomenal "Downton Abbey" and my beloved "Torchwood") are able to sustain their vision beyond a single season. It's somehow comforting to know we'll have the Count around again. A true classic never goes out of style.













Is it any surprise this story has endured for over 115 years? I think not. Who wouldn't want to be young, beautiful and powerful forever?

More, anon.
Prospero
You have read this article Bram Stoker / Dracula / Fall 2013 / Horror / Movies / Series / Trailers / TV / Vampires with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/05/nbc-will-suck-this-fall.html. Thanks!
Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day?

Even Maniacs Have Mothers
Today was Mother's Day here in the U.S., a day when children honor their mothers with gifts; special meals and awkward photos on Facebook. Mother's Day was created in 1908 by Anna Jarvis but wasn't officially celebrated until 1914. By the 20's, Jarvis said that she had become disillusioned with the commercialization of the holiday, though it is now celebrated world-wide. Hallmark, American Greetings and the floral industry would beg to differ with Ms. Jarvis' complaints..

Uncle P's mom emphatically told me she wanted no gifts from me or my sister because we had bought her that lifting recliner earlier this year. Of course, we both ignored her and bought her gifts anyway. I got her books (she loves to read) and my sister sent K-cups for the Keurig I bought her for Christmas. I also made her a meal of lobster tail and Lima beans (two things I really hate, though she really loves). Regular readers know Mom's health isn't the best and I want to make sure every holiday is special for her.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a mother as loving and caring as mine. Some mothers are just downright awful. And here's some proof:



Okay, I know that's not fair. Not every mother is an insane religious zealot bent on perverting everything that is normal for teenaged girls. But imagine your mother as a traitor:



Or maybe just as an egomaniacal control freak:



Or a cold-hearted bitch who blames you for your brother's suicide:



Or an insane mass-murderer:



I hope your Mom is as wonderful, loving and caring as mine is. If your Mom is gone, I hope you have wonderful memories of her that you keep close to your heart. And if you are a Mom reading this, I hope your children remembered you on your special day. 

Love you, Mom! Happy Mother's Day!

More, anon.
Prospero
You have read this article Clips / Holidays / Mother's Day / Movies / My Mother / Nonsense / Trailers with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/05/happy-mother-day.html. Thanks!
Saturday, May 11, 2013

Totally Torn

A few of you may be surprised to learn that Uncle P was a Scout. I started out as a Cub Scout in my local troop where my mother (bless her heart) was our Den Mother. I moved onto Webelo (don't even go there) and eventually Boy Scout. 

I quit scouting after a disastrous camping trip which involved torrential rain, flooding and some horrific bullying by other scouts in my troop.

It wouldn't be until college that I rediscovered the joys of camping (there were several trips with many dear friends, all of which are stories for another time). My last long-term BF, Ric, was an Eagle Scout (after high school, he hiked the Appalachian Trail alone) and often wore his uniform to gay clubs in protest of the BSA's anti-gay policies, as early as the late 90's (is it too much to say that it was little tight and a lot sexy?). Our last trip together was camping in Provincetown over an intensely hot and humid 4th of July weekend. But that really has little to do with this post.

Here's my dilemma: My Godson* is about to be rewarded the Honor of Eagle Scout on June 1st. I've already told his mother (another dear friend from college) that I am torn about being invited to attended J's Award Ceremony and she completely understands. While I am very proud of J for having made it to a level few scouts achieve, I can't help but feel that attending the ceremony would be hypocritical on my part. Can a gay former scout really approve of an award from an organization which continues to promote exclusion based on sexual orientation? 

The BSA recently announced a plan to allow openly gay Scouts, but not openly gay Scout Leaders. Really? So it's okay to be gay until you're 18? I don't get it. And neither do hundreds of thousands of gay scouts who want to participate, but can't once they're old enough to vote and serve in the military. Of course, serving in the military while openly gay is now allowed. If it's good enough for the U.S. Armed Forces, why isn't it good enough for the BSA? Talk about mixed messages.

Yes, the BSA was founded on 'Christian' principles. But that was one hundred and thirteen years ago! While most of the country has moved on, the BSA seems to be firmly rooted in the past. Even most Christians have progressed since 1910. Think there weren't gay scouts before now? Guess again. 

Here's the thing: While I will certainly be buying my Godson a gift to celebrate his achievement, I cannot in good conscience attend his award ceremony. And that just makes me sad.



*And yes, I totally see the irony in an atheist having a Godson. It's an honorific. Get over it. I have.

More, anon.
Prospero
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Prospero's Essential Movie Guide Special Edition: Ray Harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen and Friends
I had actually planned this post for later in the series, but the passing today of Hollywood FX legend Ray Harryhausen prompted a special post.

I may have mentioned once or twice that Merian C. Cooper's 1933 thriller King Kong is the movie that first made me fall in love with movies as a kid. Willis O'Brien's stop-motion FX were revolutionary at the time and a a young Ray Harryhausen was just as enamored of those FX as I would be, 35 years later. 

Ray soon found himself Willis' apprentice, learning the art of stop-motion from the man who practically invented it. Harryhausen eventually became the go-to guy for SMA, beginning with 1955's It Came from Beneath the Sea through 1981's Clash of the Titans. I first took note of his name the first time I saw 1963's Jason and the Argonauts*, for which he created not only a seven-headed Hydra and the giant bronze Talos, but an army of skeletal warriors borne of the Hydra's teeth. I was forever hooked:



It wouldn't be until later that I saw 20 Million Miles to Earth:

 

The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad:



Mysterious Island:



One Million Years B.C.:



My straight friends were all about Raquel in this movie, but it was John Richardson who made it a movie I HAD to see.

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger:



Patrick Wayne - woof!

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad:



And finally, Clash of the Titans (known affectionately by my sister and I as "Clash of the Trite Ones"):



The script may have been ridiculous, but Ray's FX were just as brilliant as ever. Harryhausen eventually termed his particular brand of stop-motion animation as "Dynamation," inspiring folks like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Stan Winston and many others. He was a good friend to the late, great Sci-Fi writer Ray Bradbury and continues to influence movie special effects well into the 21st Century. His work was a major influence on my youth and helped form my love of Fantasy and Science Fiction films. His fame among movie geeks like Uncle P far outweighs that of any "Movie Star" and his passing is mourned by more people than I think even he might have imagined. You've seen his work, even if you don't know his name. And if you don't know his name, shame on you! Ray Harryhausen was 92 years old.

More, anon.
Prospero

*I won't go into all the hotties in these movies for this post but rest assured, they're full of 'em!
You have read this article Essentials / Fantasy / Genius / Movies / Pioneers / Ray Bradbury / Ray Harryhausen / sci-Fi / Special FX / Stop-Motion / Tributes with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/05/prospero-essential-movie-guide-special.html. Thanks!
Monday, May 6, 2013

The Gayest Thing You'll See This Week

Liberace and Scott Thorson c. 1979
If you were alive during the 60's, 70's and 80's you know who Liberace was. At one time, the highest paid performer in the world, the flamboyant (though closeted) pianist was known for his feathered capes, fur-lined costumes and mirror-encrusted piano. He was also famously sued by former "driver" Scott Thorson for palimony. Liberace died of AIDS in 1987, denying his sexuality to the very end. Director Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies and Videotape; Magic Mike) has turned Thorson's memoir into an HBO movie called Behind the Candelabra

The movie stars Michael Douglas as Lee and Matt Damon as Thorson (who claims Lee made him have plastic surgery to make him look more like his employer/lover - though from the photo above, it's obvious Thorson wasn't exactly a 'buttahface' to begin with). I know I've talked about this movie before, but HBO just released a behind-the-scenes making-of video and I though I should share (via):



So, here are a few thoughts:

While I never need to see what Q calls "Michael Douglas' raggedy ass" again, I think he looks pretty good in the clips I've seen. And Damon looks amazing. But... why the need to cast straight actors in these roles? I would have much preferred to see unknown gay actors playing gay characters. Sure, they're both larger-than-life people. But when will actually gay actors (other than the self-loathing Rupert Everett) get to play gay roles in major films (even if they're just on cable)? Critics will undoubtedly plaud Douglas and Damon for being 'brave.' I call BS. While Debbie Reynolds is nearly unrecognizable in her makeup as Lee's Polish mother and Rob Lowe looks like a disco diva pothead, it all smells rather... fake. Yes, the design team seems to have gone out of their way to recreate Liberace's homes, furnishings and costumes. And the script is based on the memoirs of a man who was actually there. But the only other person who knows the whole truth is dead and can't defend himself against any of Thorson's claims.

"But Uncle P, everything about Liberace was fake." Well... on the surface, yes. But underneath there was a real human being who struggled and lied about himself to the world for his entire life. Liberace may have been all glitz and glamor both on and off stage, but I can't help but feel that a glitzy, glamorous movie about him can only do disservice to the real and ultimately tortured man underneath all the rhinestones and fur.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope Soderbergh and company manage to find a way to delve beneath the Swarovski crystals and etched mirrors and give us a real glimpse into the tortured soul of one of the most famous closeted gay men ever. But nothing I've seen so far indicates anything to that effect. I don't subscribe to HBO (I gave up on them after "Six Feet Under" ended), I have several friends who do and I plan on watching at one of their houses. 

Behind the Candelabra premieres on HBO May 26th.





More, anon.
Prospero
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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Prospero's Essential Movie Guide: Part 3

Friends of Dorothy
Now that I've gone and moved onto "talkies," let's talk about a few classics from the 30's, shall we? 

1938's Bringing Up Baby is Uncle P's favorite movie of all time, and with many a good reason. Howard Hawks' definitive madcap comedy was a flop when first released, despite Dudley Nichols and Hagar Wilde's brilliant script and performances from the era's brightest stars (Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn) at the height of their comedic prowess. Grant's hapless paleontologist and Hepburn's flighty heiress characters compliment one another perfectly. Add a dowager aunt (May Robinson); an intrepid wild game hunter (Charles Ruggles); a taunting terrier; two leopards and a befuddled local police department and you have what may very well be the funniest movie ever made (at least until Mel Brooks came along, 30 years later - but more on him, later). 


Of course, everyone talks about the "Perfect Year" for movies - 1939, which gave us two amazing films from gay director Victor Fleming (Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz); probably Shirley Temple's best film, The Little Princess; Greta Garbo in Ninotchka (Garbo laughs!); Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosiland Russell and Joan Fontaine in The Women and Robert Donat & Greer Garson in Goodbye Mr. Chips.













Of course, the most famous and beloved film from that year is Fleming's version of L. Frank Baum's children's novel, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." The stories surrounding this film are legendary and while many gay men of  'a certain age' consider it a watershed film (indeed, 'A Friend of Dorothy' became a euphemism for being gay in the 60's and 70's), I simply consider it a watershed film among the many that made me love movies as a child. Sequels and prequels to The Wizard of Oz abound, but none have found quite the niche that this film has found in the American psyche. 



In 1978 (told you I was OLD) I played the Cowardly Lion in my high school production, which featured elements (authorized by Geoffrey Holder) of the Broadway production of The Wiz, the African American version. It was probably the first time my high school director (now recognized as the best in the country) used Broadway elements in the staging of a high school musical. The Wizard of Oz is probably the most well-known and most-beloved of all musical films and will no doubt remain a classic for many centuries to come.

All of these films deserve the label "Classic" and should be seen by every cinephile and film student.

More, anon.
Prospero
You have read this article Cary Grant / Classics / Garbo / Gone With the Wind / Jimmy Stewart / Movies / Shirley Temple / The Wizard of Oz / Trailers with the title May 2013. You can bookmark this page URL http://tammycross.blogspot.com/2013/05/prospero-essential-movie-guide-part-3.html. Thanks!

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